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The Italy Thread


sidis

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I don't remember him giving me a pizza place, but all the restaurants we tried that he recommended were really good.  We lucked out that there was an awesome pizza place a couple of streets over from our apartment.  It was so good we ate there a couple of times.

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12 minutes ago, Reynolds Woodcock said:

The only pizza I had was a place GoLL suggested on the day we visited the vatican. Pizzarium. Was very good.

Did that one. Forgot that, it was good. 

Haven’t been to a lot but Rome easily met and exceeded expectations. 

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12 hours ago, PenelopeWitherspoon said:

I need recommendations for two days in Rome, and anything you know about the Amalfi Coast.  

penelope, i will weigh in with more later but having read your past posts on general travel, i would strongly recommend you get a reservation at la pergola in rome for dinner one night.

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La Matriciana is good.  It's an old school grand cafe.  They also claim to have invented amatriciana.  It is very good there, true or not.

Colline Emiliane is excellent.  They specialize in food from Emilia-Romagna.

La Taverna degli Amici was the best place we ate in Rome.  It's on a small piazza and the food was fantastic.  We liked it so much that we ate their twice.  We had the same waitress both times.  I had osso bucco and spaghetti with clams.  Also try the fried salt cod appetizer.

We stayed in Trastevere, so the rest of my recs are all in that area.  I would stay there as it is in the middle of everything and a really cool neighborhood.  We stayed in a great airbnb that I can send you a link to if you are interested in it.

Trattoria da Enzo was a good neighborhood place right by our apartment.  It's very small, so reservations are a good idea.  The carbonara there was the best we had in Rome.

Trattoria de Teo was another good neighborhood place.  It is also very busy because all the locals eat there.

Ai Marmi is a really good pizza place on the main drag in Trastevere.

Edited by kevwun
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12 hours ago, PenelopeWitherspoon said:

I need recommendations for two days in Rome, and anything you know about the Amalfi Coast.  

Mrs. South Austin and I were married on the Amalfi Coast in 2004, in a tiny town called Furore.  The mayor of the town proclaimed that we were the first American couple married in Furore, but that's probably what he tells everyone.  We spent the week following the wedding in Positano, which seems like one of the better places on the coast to set up base camp.  Capri is fantastic, but I'd recommend just taking a day trip, and riding the chair lift up to Anacapri for a drink and the views.  Ravello is a great town with fantastic views of the coast, but it's perched up high on the cliff with no beach access.  Amalfi seemed cool, but bigger than Positano. 

We stayed in a decent, but not great hotel in Positano.  Hotel Reginella, if I recall correctly.  If we ever go back, we would stay at Le Sirenuse.  

We didn't rent a car.  Just took the train from Rome to Salerno, and then a cab into the coast.  We hired a driver for a day out to Ravello and Pompeii.

All this to say that I haven't been to the Amalfi Coast in over a decade, and if it's changed like Cinque Terre has, I imagine it's much more crowded and not as quaint.  I'd defer to those on shaggy surly who have been more recently. 

Edit:  Oh, and what others said -- whatever texasdago recommends, you do that.

Edited by South Austin
texasdago knows italy 'n shit
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1 hour ago, chesthair said:

s'scribed

My son asked to go to Italy for his Senior present, have 2 years to plan.  I want to knock it out of the park.  

Only a 3.5 hour drive from Houston.  No big deal.  There's more going on in Waxahachie tho, if you ask me.  Watch out for state troopers on i35 tho... speed traps like a motherfucker.

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9 hours ago, sidis said:

penelope, i will weigh in with more later but having read your past posts on general travel, i would strongly recommend you get a reservation at la pergola in rome for dinner one night.

If it was just me, I would do it in a heartbeat.  I have three other folks with me on this part of the trip who might not want to spend that on a meal.  I will float the idea though.  That would be a very great Saturday night dinner.

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On 3/28/2018 at 9:25 AM, kevwun said:

La Matriciana is good.  It's an old school grand cafe.  They also claim to have invented amatriciana.  It is very good there, true or not.

Colline Emiliane is excellent.  They specialize in food from Emilia-Romagna.

La Taverna degli Amici was the best place we ate in Rome.  It's on a small piazza and the food was fantastic.  We liked it so much that we ate their twice.  We had the same waitress both times.  I had osso bucco and spaghetti with clams.  Also try the fried salt cod appetizer.

We stayed in Trastevere, so the rest of my recs are all in that area.  I would stay there as it is in the middle of everything and a really cool neighborhood.  We stayed in a great airbnb that I can send you a link to if you are interested in it.

Trattoria da Enzo was a good neighborhood place right by our apartment.  It's very small, so reservations are a good idea.  The carbonara there was the best we had in Rome.

Trattoria de Teo was another good neighborhood place.  It is also very busy because all the locals eat there.

Ai Marmi is a really good pizza place on the main drag in Trastevere.

I'm like, hey... who wrote those first three and then I realized that I recommended those to you.  LOL.  La Matriciana is very good... yes, its not quite their invention (Amatrice says nope) but its still quite good.  

 

What kind of food do you want to eat?

Also, since you tend to get fancy, go have an afternoon coffee/tea/dessert at the Grand Hotel.  You might see some celebrity or royalty there.

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On 3/28/2018 at 9:29 AM, Biff Tannen said:

Doing Dolomites, Como, Cinque Terre, and Tuscany end of September/beginning of October.  Thinking about just driving the entire time and not doing trains.  Is that folly?

It is the best thing you could do.  We get a car every single time... that way you can stop in small towns, wineries, country trattorie, etc.  You can enjoy getting great coffee in an Autogrill on the Italian highway system... or just taking a detour and coming across old ruins or an abandoned church or someone who sells olive oil or preserves or whatever out of their own house.  AND, if you can drive a stick, you'll have 10x more fun.  

 

Where in the Dolomites?

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13 minutes ago, texasdago said:

It is the best thing you could do.  We get a car every single time... that way you can stop in small towns, wineries, country trattorie, etc.  You can enjoy getting great coffee in an Autogrill on the Italian highway system... or just taking a detour and coming across old ruins or an abandoned church or someone who sells olive oil or preserves or whatever out of their own house.  AND, if you can drive a stick, you'll have 10x more fun.  

 

Where in the Dolomites?

Awesome.  Staying in Val Gardena and then St Moritz.

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Dude... nice!  That's awesome.  Val Gardena is beautiful in the summer time.  We've normally stayed in Selva, further up the Valley but Ortisei is nice because it is a larger town.  Selva is quaint and you can make your way up a couple of mountain passes.  Last time we went, we drove into Corvara or Colfosco (one of the two) and then took the gondola up to Jimmy Huette.  Great view of the Sella Ronda and you can enjoy a nice heavy plate of canederli.  Be sure to take an easy hike into Vallunga and stop at Baita Ciampac.

For the record, you suck.  Enjoy it.

 

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4 minutes ago, texasdago said:

Dude... nice!  That's awesome.  Val Gardena is beautiful in the summer time.  We've normally stayed in Selva, further up the Valley but Ortisei is nice because it is a larger town.  Selva is quaint and you can make your way up a couple of mountain passes.  Last time we went, we drove into Corvara or Colfosco (one of the two) and then took the gondola up to Jimmy Huette.  Great view of the Sella Ronda and you can enjoy a nice heavy plate of canederli.  Be sure to take an easy hike into Vallunga and stop at Baita Ciampac.

For the record, you suck.  Enjoy it.

 

Haha thanks.  The wife actually came up with this itinerary, so it's on her.  Is renting a car more or less expensive there than here?  I rented a car in Canada last summer for 10 days and it ran me almost 4 grand.  Granted it was an SUV and we returned it on the US side of the border, but still.  I don't want the car rental to be half of the vacation cost.

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i got a standard fiat from europcar that i picked up in milan and dropped off in venice a week later that was not expensive at all...but the expense ratchets up if you want an automatic quite a bit.

one other thing to just be aware of with driving is that the highways (autostrade) are all tolls and can really rack up on long drives so just don't forget that.

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9 minutes ago, Biff Tannen said:

Haha thanks.  The wife actually came up with this itinerary, so it's on her.  Is renting a car more or less expensive there than here?  I rented a car in Canada last summer for 10 days and it ran me almost 4 grand.  Granted it was an SUV and we returned it on the US side of the border, but still.  I don't want the car rental to be half of the vacation cost.

So, if you pick up the car in Italy, return it in Italy, otherwise you'll get the Canadian treatment.  It depends what you rent and how much luggage you need.  Just like in the U.S., the rate you see looks enticing but the taxes, fees, etc. add up.  If you can drive a stick, you can rent a cheaper car.  In some cases, you can pick the actual model (rent an Alfa, of course).  I would recommend getting an international drivers permit. They may ask for it, they may not.  I saw people turned away from the counter in Rome without a permit.  They are cheap and valid for a year.  Also, shop around on rates with Hertz, Sixt, etc.  

Correct on the tools but they are typically great highways, nice and smooth.  Traffic usually flows well until you get near Bologna and then it always sucks.  

Edited by texasdago
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11 minutes ago, Biff Tannen said:

Haha thanks.  The wife actually came up with this itinerary, so it's on her.  Is renting a car more or less expensive there than here?  I rented a car in Canada last summer for 10 days and it ran me almost 4 grand.  Granted it was an SUV and we returned it on the US side of the border, but still.  I don't want the car rental to be half of the vacation cost.

 

i've rented standard cars in IT a few times and the costs are always reasonable and fair.  something like 35-80EUR/day all inclusive.  even doing 1-way drop offs (albeit same country)

the traditional vendors are europcar, sixt, but all of the major US-chains are represented as well.  

normally i stay away from booking 3rd parties, but actually https://www.autoeurope.eu/ presents good prices, no tricks (hidden fees, surprise insurance, etc) and usually it ends up going to Europcar.

 

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We travel with kids and usually go for 2-3 weeks at a time so we have to bring an assload worth of stuff so we often end up with something like a Ford Focus Wagon or a Volvo.  I think we got a Nissan Juke once and that sucked.  Anyway, so long as you get a stick, you can keep costs down.  Sometimes you'll get a surprise.  In the Netherlands, they gave me a Range Rover... in Geneva I got a Fiat Punto Wagon which wasn't bad and had plenty of room in the back but not a stick (I felt cheated by not getting a stick... ha!)

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my one and only experience in a Fiat was a 500 rented in Italy. 

motherfucker literally couldnt go up a hill.  pathetic.  that and some shit opel in spain... never ever driving again.

VW Polo and Golf are common offering and these are good rides.  Skoda are great if you need personal and luggage space

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On 3/28/2018 at 9:29 AM, Biff Tannen said:

Doing Dolomites, Como, Cinque Terre, and Tuscany end of September/beginning of October.  Thinking about just driving the entire time and not doing trains.  Is that folly?

Cinque Terre you either don't really need a car, or can't use a car if you try, depending what town you stay in. Plenty of trains running back and forth, and take the boat ride at least one day.
Dolomites the car was a must. Hell that's mainly what we did, drive around, head hanging out the window, mouth agape. Incredible scenery. We stayed at a spa retreat place a few miles from any town, so again, car a must. The only time you wouldn't use a car is if you are going to start one place and hike a long way to another. We did a few hikes where we rode a ski lift up then hiked down, or just out and back. Dolomites are seriously underappreciated. Great food, like great Italian food with some German sausages to boot, plus its much cleaner than the rest of Italy. 
Tuscany also to me great to have the car if you are going out to the hill towns. You can stay in Florence, train to Pisa and Siena for day trips no problem, but for the smaller towns, drive. San Gimigiano, Volterra etc. all have big parking lots for the tourist. Same if you go south out of Tuscany, Orvieto, Assisi, all set for driving.
 

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1 minute ago, Robin Masters said:

Cinque Terre you either don't really need a car, or can't use a car if you try, depending what town you stay in. Plenty of trains running back and forth, and take the boat ride at least one day.
Dolomites the car was a must. Hell that's mainly what we did, drive around, head hanging out the window, mouth agape. Incredible scenery. We stayed at a spa retreat place a few miles from any town, so again, car a must. The only time you wouldn't use a car is if you are going to start one place and hike a long way to another. We did a few hikes where we rode a ski lift up then hiked down, or just out and back. Dolomites are seriously underappreciated. Great food, like great Italian food with some German sausages to boot, plus its much cleaner than the rest of Italy. 
Tuscany also to me great to have the car if you are going out to the hill towns. You can stay in Florence, train to Pisa and Siena for day trips no problem, but for the smaller towns, drive. San Gimigiano, Volterra etc. all have big parking lots for the tourist. Same if you go south out of Tuscany, Orvieto, Assisi, all set for driving.
 

Ah yes, the plan was to ditch the car at Cinque Terre and pick up another on the way out.  Sounds like a good plan to have a car through the Dolomites and Tuscany though.  

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If the goal in Italy is to eat pizza you’re doing Italy wrong. There is so much more to Italian food than the Americanized Italian food eaten here.  Yes. There’s pizza in Italy but pizza is the tip of the iceberg and much of Italy’s fantastic food does not feature the tomato or tomato based sauces. 

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15 hours ago, 52-80 said:

my one and only experience in a Fiat was a 500 rented in Italy. 

motherfucker literally couldnt go up a hill.  pathetic.  that and some shit opel in spain... never ever driving again.

VW Polo and Golf are common offering and these are good rides.  Skoda are great if you need personal and luggage space

I had one of those Fiats in Croatia, was not very good.

The worst was some fucking Hyundai in Germany with like a 1 liter engine. Five fat dudes and that thing would barely get up a hill.

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We just got back from Florence and I didn’t think about pizza while there. Wife did and I’ll admit it was good. We had a bunch of other more Italian (Tuscan) style I would say. Hopefully I can find the receipts of the places we went to or their cards if I grabbed them to mention here.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I generally agree that there are plenty of good places to eat in Trastevere.  But let's be a little bit honest--Trastevere is a bit out of the way.  Its across the river and up the hill from most of the stuff you're going to be visiting as a tourist.

The problem is that there aren't just a whole lot of great restaurants in the tourist area that I've been able to find.

One exception is Trattoria dei Foro Imperiali just two blocks from the Roman Forum.  The place is absolutely incredible.  It has a limited menu, but don't mind that--there's a list of daily specials that is usually at least as long as the menu.  And you want to order from the specials, because it's based on what has shown up in the market that morning.  It was one of the two best meals we had in Italy (the other being a bisteca alla fiortina at a little osteria in Montepulciano).  Reservations are compulsory.

I would also say that one of the restaurants lining the piazza in front of the Pantheon is worth it.  The food isn't the best in town, and they're generally overpriced for what you get.  But if you get a table on the exterior, the dinner show is amazing.  The Piazza is alive with everything from street performers to tourists to folks just out walking around.  And all of that comes in front of the backdrop of the greatest surviving piece of ancient architecture.  It all just makes for a magical evening.

Edited by Ghost of LL
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We walked everywhere from Trastevere other than to the Vatican.  Granted, the hike to Augustus' tomb and the Ara Pacis museum was a little long, but that was really the only one.  If you are in decent shape and don't have small kids, it's a perfect location.  If you stay close to the river, you're within a mile and a half of almost all of the big sites and most are closer than that.  The bonus of getting to stay in an actual real life neighborhood is great.

Edited by kevwun
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  • 2 weeks later...

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